The Columbia County Board of Education voted Tuesday not to bring children back to school to make up two days missed during this month’s ice storm.
The board acted on a recommendation from Superintendent Sandra Carraway to forgive the days missed on Feb. 13 and 14 for students and to ask employees only to make up one of those days, splitting 3-2 in favor of the motion.
Carraway said the only other option would be to bring students and teachers back to school on April 14, the Monday after the Masters Tournament, which had been scheduled as a vacation day.
Board member Mike Sleeper expressed reservations over the action, citing fiscal concerns and the board’s responsibility to the taxpayers.
He said the county had a contract with teachers to pay them for 190 days and should enforce it.
“I would rather add the Monday after the Masters,” Sleeper said. “That is my preference.”
Trustee Roxanne Whitaker also expressed concern that teachers would not have enough time to properly prepare students for the CRCT exams in May.
“My main concern is the CRCT, “ she said. “The teachers have already missed five days of instruction.”
Columbia County students have missed five days of school since Jan. 1 because of two winter storms.
Carraway said the board had already authorized forgiving two of the days and making up a third day from the ice storm March 14.
That left two days up for debate.
Trustee Kristi Baker said she doubted bringing back teachers for the April 14 make-up date would actually accomplish anything.
Many families have already made plans to be out of town that day and that might affect attendance.
“If you are going to bring back the teachers, I want the students to be there,” she said.
Trustee David Dekle pointed out that teachers already work many hours outside their planned workdays and he didn’t see the point in bringing them back for one day in April.
“I think our teachers are professional and we should treat them like professionals. They don’t need to punch a clock,” he said.
“I think they will do their job and have our children ready (for the CRCT tests.)”
The motion passed with Chairwoman Regina Buccafusco, Baker and Dekle voting in favor and Sleeper and Whitaker opposed.